Understanding the many benefits of cannabis in cancer treatment

Image: Understanding the many benefits of cannabis in cancer treatment

A cancer diagnosis is both devastating and terrifying. Patients are almost always directed towards conventional cancer treatments like surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and are made to feel that any other, more “natural” treatments are not only ineffective but dangerous.

The truth is, however, that mainstream cancer treatments wreak havoc on the body, leaving it defenseless against disease and breaking it down at the exact time when it needs to be as strong as possible. With its less than impressive success rate of between 2 and 4 percent, along with its devastating effects on the body, it is unsurprising that three out of every four doctors say they would refuse chemotherapy as a treatment option if they themselves became ill.

While doctors like to promote the idea that there are no treatments scientifically proven to work besides the usual surgery/chemotherapy/radiation regimen, the truth is there is a strong body of evidence that many natural, non-invasive treatments are effective in the fight against cancer. One of the most well-researched and solidly proven of all these natural medicines is cannabis.

The miraculous power of cannabinoids

As noted by Dr. Mark Sircus, writing for Green Med Info, there is no confusion about whether marijuana is an effective cancer treatment. Cannabis has been scientifically proven to kill cancer cells without the devastating and body weakening effects of conventional cancer treatments.

The marijuana plant contains about 113 powerful chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. The most well-known of these compounds are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the chemical that induces marijuana’s “high” – and cannabidiol – a non-psychoactive compound which has been extensively studied as a cure for many diseases.

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These and other cannabinoids are what make marijuana such a potent anti-cancer treatment, as reported by Green Med Info:

Cannabinoids are found to exert their anti-cancer effects in a number of ways and in a variety of tissues.

  • Triggering cell death, through a mechanism called apoptosis
  • Stopping cells from dividing
  • Preventing new blood vessels from growing into tumors
  • Reducing the chances of cancer cells spreading through the body, by stopping cells from moving or invading neighboring tissue
  • Speeding up the cell’s internal ‘waste disposal machine’ – a process known as autophagy – which can lead to cell death

All these effects are thought to be caused by cannabinoids locking onto the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. Almost daily we are seeing new or confirming evidence that Cannibinoids can be used to great benefit in cancer treatment of many types.


What the science says

Scientific studies published in a host of peer-reviewed journals have confirmed marijuana’s powerful ability to fight breast, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate and other cancers.

A meta-analysis of over 100 published studies, performed by researchers from Germany’s Rostock University Medical Centre, concluded that cannabis both boosts immunity and fights cancer.

The Daily Mail reported:

Scientists are calling for more studies to be done on humans after studying the cancer-fighting effects of chemicals in the drug.

Studies suggest chemicals called phytocannabinoids could stop cancer cells multiplying and spreading, block the blood supply to tumors, and reduce cancer’s ability to survive chemotherapy. …

The new research review admits cannabis has ‘anti-cancer effects’ and says more research needs to be done in real patients to confirm the findings.

It takes real courage to receive a cancer diagnosis and decide not to follow mainstream advice but seek alternative treatments. But even for those who choose to receive conventional cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy, cannabis can still be an important part of their overall wellness plan. As Dr. Sircus admonishes, “Every cancer patient and every oncologist should put medical marijuana on their treatment maps.”

Marijuana and Diabetes: What You Need to Know

Medical views and public opinions on cannabis (marijuana) have come a long way in the last several decades. Today, medicinal and recreational use of the plant and its derivatives are quickly gaining both acceptance and popularity.

What does this mean for people with diabetes who may use the plant or its constituents (where it is medically or recreationally legal)?

This article summarizes the major effects of cannabis and the derived compounds on physiology and various health conditions, particularly as they may relate to people with diabetes. However, cannabis and many of the associated products remain illegal at the federal level. Anything written in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice.

Marijuana Laws in the United States

According to The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), thirteen states have decriminalized marijuana use, a whopping thirty-two states have enacted medical marijuana laws, and ten states have fully legalized recreational marijuana use for adults.

Image credit: NORML

Medicinal Uses of Cannabis

It is well-established that there are numerous medicinal properties of cannabis. Reports of medicinal cannabis use date back thousands of years, and more and more studies are being conducted today, with increased tolerance, legal status at the local level, and more widely-accepted view of the potential health benefits.

How does it work? Briefly, our bodies have what is referred to as an endocannabinoid system—that is, the specific cellular receptors that can interact with several different compounds that are found in marijuana and can affect a variety of physiological processes. As can be seen in the diagrams below, these receptors are present in a variety of organs and tissues in humans.


Cannabis contains many different compounds. The two major active compounds are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Researchers note that “available research indicates that the main two compounds, d-9-THC and CBD, whilst having similar effects in certain domains, also have almost opposite effects to one another in other aspects.” This highlights why specific preparations (e.g., CBD only) may be especially useful for treating a particular health condition.

Which health conditions may benefit from the use of cannabis or its derivatives? Since the endocannabinoid system can affect numerous processes, there are many conditions that can be targeted.

Some major conditions that have been proposed for targeting include:

  • Anorexia
  • Autoimmune Diseases (Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease)
  • Cancers
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Liver Disease
  • Nausea
  • Nephropathy
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases (e.g., Parkinson’s, Alzheimer;’s, Huntington’s)
  • Obesity
  • Pain
  • Psychiatric Disorders

So, marijuana can affect a variety of organs and exerts both physical and psychological effects.

Many of these uses are already approved in some or all states where medicinal marijuana is legal. As can be seen, some of these conditions (e.g., nephropathy, cardiovascular disease, obesity) are more prevalent in people with diabetes, which may make medicinal cannabis use more likely in this population. In fact, at least one study reported on the benefits of CBD for the treatment of diabetic cardiomyopathy, while other research has shown that the endocannabinoid system is intimately involved in the development of many diabetes-associated complications, and highlights that several clinical trials have recently explored targeting cannabinoid receptors for treatment.

Marijuana and Blood Glucose Management

The use of cannabis or its preparations can offer treatment for various health conditions, including ones that are more prevalent in the diabetes population. So, can the compounds affect blood glucose control and what should individuals with diabetes take into consideration to stay safe? 

Potential Effects on Blood Glucose Levels

Interestingly, some research has suggested that marijuana users tend to be thinner than non-users and that users may be less likely to develop diabetes. Another study suggested that “chronic cannabis smoking was associated with visceral adiposity and adipose tissue insulin resistance but not with hepatic steatosis, insulin insensitivity, impaired pancreatic β-cell function, or glucose intolerance.”

When it comes to the overall effects of marijuana or its components on blood glucose levels at any specific time of use, no conclusive research is available. Many variables affect blood glucose levels and can include food consumption, medication use, activity, anxiety levels, etc. This means that it’s very important for the individual to self-monitor their blood glucose levels to stay safe.

What to Look Out For

Of course, any person with diabetes should always be on the lookout for hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia and make the appropriate adjustments. Marijuana can affect one’s mental state, so it is important to prepare ahead of time, by setting alarms to check blood glucose levels, or by having another individual with you, who knows about diabetes and can help you check your blood glucose and make the appropriate treatment decisions, if necessary.

Interestingly, a recent study suggested an association between marijuana use and a higher likelihood of developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a serious and life-threatening complication of diabetes. However, a causal relationship is not clear, the findings are limited by small sample size, and confounding variables, such as income and education level. Patients who used marijuana also happened to have a significantly higher A1c level. It could be that in this case, the cannabis-using population was generally less diligent in their diabetes care for various reasons.


As with using any new medication or recreation drug (such as alcohol), it is imperative that people with diabetes remain in control of their condition by checking their blood glucose levels frequently and adjusting accordingly. If a patient is prescribed medicinal cannabis, it is important to discuss any concerns with a healthcare provider ahead of time and to be extra diligent about checking blood glucose levels frequently during use.

Today, cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, but a gray area is increasingly emerging, for both medicinal and recreational use, as more and more states pass new legislature. We will update this article as more research is conducted, and as state and federal laws are updated.


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Atakan Z; “Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals” (2012) Therapeutic Advances in Pharmacology 2(5): 241-254. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3736954/pdf/10.1177_2045125312457586.pdf

Bancks MP, Pletcher MJ, Kertesz SG, Sidney S, Rana JS, Schreiner PJ; “Marijuana use and risk of prediabetes and diabetes by middle adulthood: the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study” (2015) Diabetologia 58(12): 2736-2744. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-015-3740-3

Booth M; “Cannabis: A History” (2005) St. Martin’s Press, Picador 1stedition.

Bridgeman MB and Abazia DT; “Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, and Implications for the Acute Care Setting” (2017) Pharmacy and Therapeutics 42(3): 180-188. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5312634/

Horvath B, Mukhopadhyay P, Hasko G, Pacher P; “The Endocannabinoid System and Plant-Derived Cannabinoids in Diabetes and Diabetic Complications” (2012) The American Journal of Pathology 180(2): 432-442. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002944011010273

Leung L; “Cannabis and Its Derivatives: Review of Medical Use” (2011) Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine 24: 452-462. http://www.jabfm.org/content/24/4/452.full.pdf+html

Muniyappa R, Sable S, Ouwerkerk R, Mari A, Gharib AM, Courville A, Hall G, Chen KY, Volkow ND, Kunos G, Huestis MA, Skarulis MC: “Metabolic Effects of Chronic Cannabis Smoking” (2013) Diabetes Care DC_122303. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2013/03/20/dc12-2303.short

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Rajavashisth TB, Shaheen M, Norris KC, Pan D, Sinha SK, Ortega J, Friedman TC; “Decreased prevalence of diabetes in marijuana users: cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III” (2012) BMJ Open 2: e000494. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/1/e000494.short

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THC Makes Cannabis Ideal for Treating Asthma, Study Shows


For many , the idea of cannabis being used as an asthma treatment can feel a bit backwards. After all, one of the most common ways cannabis is ingested is by smoking, a method that would seem to be detrimental to those with asthma. However, recent studies have found that cannabis in any form (even smoked) can greatly benefit those suffering from the symptoms of asthma.

Can Marijuana Treat Asthma?

First let’s take a closer look at asthma and what it actually means to have it. Asthma is a fairly common lung disease that results in the narrowing of the airway passage. Due to this narrowing, those suffering from asthma frequently experience feeling out of breath, wheezing or uncontrollable coughing.

While treatment can be used to reduce the effects patients with asthma experience, there is currently no cure for the condition. Asthma attacks can come in many forms and can be triggered by a number of factors including allergies or exercise. While asthma doesn’t reduce your life expectancy, being caught in an intense asthma attack without the proper treatment can be fatal.

So how does a substance that can be smoked help treat asthma? The explanation can be found by examining where asthma begins. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease, while cannabis is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory effects. This means cannabis works in an opposite effect to other substances like tobacco and can actually help expand the lungs instead of constricting them. 

Editor’s Note: A 2015 animal study in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics identified THC specifically as the active compound in cannabis that could benefit people suffering from asthma. They found that THC had anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator effects on airways (very similar to the effect Ventolin has on the lungs during an asthma attack). This is great news! 

So how powerful can a cannabis treatment actually be? For those suffering from an asthma attack the results are practically instantaneous and are similar to the results found with some of the more common name brand inhalers. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from asthma and would like to seek cannabis as a treatment option, be sure to check out your state’s list of qualifying medical conditions for medicinal cannabis to see if you are eligible for such a treatment option.

Other Ways to Treat Asthma Naturally

If you’re looking for more natural forms of asthma treatment, talk to your doctor about the following options:

Does Marijuana Harm Your Heart?

As more states legalize marijuana for recreational and medicinal uses, it appears here to stay. So, let’s talk about options for using and possible medicinal uses. Like anything, speak with your holistic doctor prior to acting on any information in this post.

Over half the states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana.

Marijuana (cannabis) has two major constituents: THC and CBD. Both can be therapeutic, but it is the THC that is linked to psychological effects in the short and long term.

So, let’s get to the science.

Marijuana has also been found to be effective in relieving some of the symptoms of HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis.

Marijuana has been used for chronic pain for decades. Chronic pain is linked to a higher risk of hypertension, heart attack, and death. If marijuana can reduce pain, this should mean good outcomes.

What I want to point out is that marijuana is a band-aid like alcohol, ibuprofen, narcotics etc.

I choose to find the CAUSE of pain and remove cause and treat naturally, including chiropractic care. If we find and treat CAUSE, and pain remains, this is a place for medical marijuana.

I do not propose that we are all better off consuming marijuana as first line therapy.

There are similar studies that show the risks associated with the use of marijuana. Longitudinal studies have shown the harmful effects on lung function2 and the increased risk of schizophrenia and psychosis.

A recent study was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s meetings that cautions us about the risk of recreational and medicinal use in a population with established cardiovascular disease or in people with an increased risk of heart disease. The observational study results serve as a warning to patients with heart conditions. There are other studies that failed to prove long-term effects on cardiovascular mortality.

However, most of the studies mentioned above are observational and experimental animal studies, and there are no randomized human studies.

Marijuana, known as cannabis, has receptors all over the body. There are 2 types of cannabinoid receptors in humans. Cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) activation is pro-atherogenic and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2) activation is anti-atherogenic.

Cannabinoids modulate the immune system, alter lipid metabolism, and affect endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). This means that they have the potential to cause massive positive or negative effects. Not to mention genetic and epigenetic abnormalities.


Essentially, whatever your complaint or health issue, cannabis can make it better or worse.

In humans, marijuana use is associated with increased heart rate and postural fluctuations in blood pressure, which may be implicated in developing heart attacks or strokes. Multiple case reports of acute coronary syndrome after marijuana use have been published. More recently, a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association reported that there are potential cardiovascular dangers to young adults using marijuana.

18 case reports of stroke from marijuana in a recent report.

Another study found links to heart failure and marijuana use.

Almost 5x higher risk for myocardial infarction (MI) within 1 hour of smoking marijuana.

In patients with a history of MI, marijuana use more than once a week was associated with a 3-fold increase in mortality.

The Good Heart Health News for Marijuana Users

Users have a lower risk of atrial fibrillation with marijuana.

Another study compared use with no marijuana use with association with incident CVD, stroke or transient ischemic attacks, coronary heart disease, or CVD mortality. Marijuana use was not associated with CVD when stratified by age, gender, race, or family history of CVD.

To Smoke or Eat?

The delivery method of cannabis is likely are major factor in overall risk.

Substances within the inhaled smoke, such as carbon monoxide and burnt plant particles, can harm lung tissues and damage small blood vessels. This is like tobacco smoking, which can have negative effects on the heart and can also lead to strokes, especially in patients with existing heart and circulatory problems.

At this time, there are no randomized human trials regarding cannabis consumption.

The Future

The future will try to decipher what effects THC has and what CBD has. Combinations will be tried for various ailments. Since it will be tough to patent a combination product, science may not offer answers to satisfy us.


Stay tuned. In the meantime, I would not recommend starting cannabis in any form until all other health factors are improved.

I think this gives your body the best chance to accept the benefits and minimize possible harm.

Prevents Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

Could cannabis use protect you from liver damage due to drinking?

New Study Suggests Marijuana Prevents Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

It’s common knowledge that cannabis is much less harmful to human health than alcohol. But researchers in Massachusetts have published a new study that shows how cannabis could actually help reduce the harmful effects of alcohol use and abuse. Taking advantage of the anti-inflammatory effects of marijuana, the study investigated whether or not marijuana prevents alcohol-related liver disease.

Could Cannabis Help Reduce The Harmful Effects Of Drinking?

Many experts consider alcohol to be the most harmful drug for human health. And indeed, alcohol racks up an astonishing body count each year. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control, alcohol is responsible for 88,000 deaths each year. It also contributes to a full third of all traffic deaths, about 10,000 fatalities per year.

With a death toll approaching 100,000 annually, alcohol doesn’t discriminate. According to the International Business Times, which reported on a pair of major surveys between 2001 and 2013, drinking’s destructive effects are rising across virtually every demographic in the US.

And that’s because alcohol use is on the rise across the board. So-called “high-risk” drinking is increasing at an even higher rate, marching upwards by 30 percent. As a result, nearly 30 million Americans are exposed to health risks due to their alcohol consumption. In short, alcohol use represents a significant public health concern.

One of the most fatal of those harmful effects is, of course, liver disease.

 New Study Suggests Marijuana Prevents Alcohol-Related Liver Disease.

When a person drinks alcohol, they introduce a harmful substance into their body. The liver tries to filter out the alcohol in the bloodstream, but this damages many liver cells in the process. In response, the liver suffers from inflammation as scar tissue replaces the dead cells.

The more someone drinks, the more significant this damage becomes. Alcohol abuse causes severe, chronic inflammation of the liver, which can lead to fatal cirrhosis of the liver.

One of the most well-documented medicinal effects of cannabis use, however, is as an anti-inflammatory. Marijuana’s anti-inflammatory properties account for why the drug is an effective pain reliever. It’s also why cannabis is used to treat nerve inflammation, which is at the root of many neurological diseases like epilepsy and MS.

Building off of these precedents, researchers with the North Shore Medical Center in Salem, Massachusetts wanted to see if weed’s potent anti-inflammatory capabilities could also help protect the liver from damage.

What they discovered is pretty incredible. The study focused on about 319,000 patients with a past or current history of alcohol abuse. Researchers divided the group into non-cannabis users, non-dependent cannabis users, and dependent cannabis users.

They also studied how cannabis use relates to the four distinct phases of liver disease. These are alcoholic fatty liver disease (AS), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (AH), cirrhosis (AC), and liver cancer (HCC).

Final Hit: New Study Suggests Marijuana Prevents Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

Remarkably, the researchers found that cannabis users had “significantly lower odds” of developing AS, AH, AC, and HCC. What’s more, cannabis users the study classified as “dependent” showed the lowest chances of developing liver disease.

In other words, the more someone used cannabis, the less likely they were to develop liver diseases caused by alcohol abuse. Therefore, the study concluded, there’s reason to believe the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis do protect the liver from damage from alcohol abuse.

Adeyinka Charles Adejumo, who headed the research team, wants to make clear that aim of the study. It isn’t to encourage heavy drinkers to take up cannabis. Furthermore, Adejumo isn’t suggesting mixing alcohol and cannabis consumption. Instead, the scientist views the study as opening the door to cannabis-based treatments for liver disease in individuals who abuse alcohol.

How Marijuana Use Can Alter Brain Function and Induce Psychotic Behavior

Smoking marijuana is becoming increasingly legal and mainstream in the United States. More than 33 million adults identify as pot smokers, and teenagers in particular are feeling more comfortable with weed, thanks to its status as a safe drug.


That cultural shift may need some rethinking. A new study suggests that there can be potential negative long-term effects of heavy marijuana use — especially if people begin smoking at a young age. Published last November in the journal Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience, the findings are part of a larger effort by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to better understand the effects of chronic smoking, a murky issue.

According to the study, heavy marijuana use was linked to changes in the parts of the brain that are involved in reward processing and habit formation. Cameron Carter, Ph.D., the editor of Biological Psychiatry, explained in a statement released Monday that this suggests “heavy use of this popular drug may lead to depression and other even more severe forms of mental illness.”

Long term cannabis use appears to alter the parts of the brain linked to negative emotion.
Early onset cannabis use was associated with a higher risk for poor neuropsychiatric outcomes.

Scientists analyzed resting brain data from 441 people between the ages of 22 and 35, already collected through the Human Connectome Project, a collaboration between the University of Southern California and Harvard University to map the structural and functional neural connections of individuals. Thirty of these study participants were already established as meeting the DSM criteria for marijuana dependence. The research team also assessed the brain scans of 30 people between the same ages who did not smoke marijuana as a control group.

They discovered that the individuals who had starting using cannabis early in life exhibited the most significant changes in their brain’s subcortical volumes, as well as changes to the functional connectivity density in the brain’s ventral striatum, midbrain, brainstem, and lateral thalamus. The scientists explain that these changes, described as “hyperconnectivity,” end up disturbing resting brain functions assocaited with habit formation, reward processing, and the development of psychosis (defined as when one’s emotions and thoughts aren’t in touch with reality).

These individuals also reported the highest levels of negative emotions. The study’s authors think that makes sense, since these brain alternations are often associated with heightened feelings of negativity and alienation — which they reason is why people who are dependent on marijuana often report that they feel a sense of rejection from others.

The study links an increased risk for psychosis to cannabis abuse.

This study adds to the growing number of studies that have found heavy smoking can be linked to psychosis, cognitive impairments, and depression — an effect driven by the low dopamine release seen in the brains of chronic users.

Scientists are still learning why these effects manifest, and they suspect THC, the most famous active chemical compound in cannabis, is to blame. Another chemical compound in cannabis, CBD, has been found to have the opposite effect: A study published in December found that CBD could be useful in treating psychotic disorders.

It’s clear these days marijuana use is not the death knell that health advocates early last century feared it was. On the other hand, new studies like this also emphasize that there’s still a ton we don’t know about how drugs affect the brain, especially in the long run.

The 25 Most-Read Inverse Culture Stories of 2017

Looking back on 2017 is probably not something most of us are prepared to do just yet. That being said, taking a glance at the year’s most-read Culture stories definitely reads like a greatest hits on what captivated our attention in this most crazy of years.

Above the cacophony of Trump gaffs and Twitter feuds, Inverse readers gravitated towards stories that could satisfy their curiosities about this big weird world. From the political (can you legally punch a Nazi?) to the whimsical (what is tentacle porn?), Inverse readers had a lot of questions in 2017. And as technology continues to move at a speed that we can barely keep up with, readers also wanted to know about how apps, AI and the internet at large is affecting our social lives — and our sex lives.

Here are the 25 Culture stories that Inverse readers loved in 2017.

25. Why the Internet Turned on Vine and YouTube Star Jake Paul

By Emily Gaudette

An adult’s guide to the young Vine star who has matured into a weird — and problematic — Youtube celebrity.

24. 8 Surprising Images That Were Banned From Instagram

By Grace Scott

When it comes to what imagery is too sexual or explicit for Instagram, female bodies seem to get caught in the crossfire of the debate over what’s appropriate to post online. These images, many of which appear to be quite benign, were still too controversial for the social media platform.

23. A 95-Year-Old “Real Life Tomb Raider” Isn’t a Hero, She’s a Thief

By Rae Paoletta

Joan Howard spent the ‘60s and ‘70s pilfering historical artifacts from the Middle East. Several archaeologists told Rae Paoletta about why Howard’s activities were highly unethical, likely illegal, and deeply offensive.

Artist Isaac Kariuki had this portrait of a woman with a cellphone taken down from his Instagram.

22. ‘Get Out’ Fans Will Love Jordan Peele’s Viral Tweet About Trump

By Paige Leskin

Jordan Peele made a perfectly-meta dig at Donald Trump over Twitter.

21.How to (Legally) Punch a Nazi Who’s Threatening You

By Katie Way

Civil rights lawyer and activist Dan Siegel spoke to Inverse about the legal parameters of self-defense and Nazis.

20. The Librarian Behind This Tough Topics Poster Says It Will Hang Indefinitely

By Nick Lucchesi

The person responsible for a sign directing teens to books on tricky topics, from abusive relationships to acne, tells us why it’s important that kids get the information they’re sometimes afraid to ask for.

19. Why Google is Celebrating 131 Years of the ‘Essential’ Hole Punch

By Mike Brown

When Google chose to highlight Dutch designer Gerben Steenks in a November doodle, it gave us the perfect excuse to school readers on the fascinating history of the hole punch. It’s actually very interesting!

This poster that helps young people find literature on the more awkward of topics went viral on Reddit.

18. States and Cities Where Weed Won This November

By Sarah Sloat

The November election was a game-changer for marijuana activists, as legislators in favor of legalization were voted in across the board.

17. The Right Hates That Vogue Cover Because They Still Own Patriotic Imagery

By Emily Gaudette

Jennifer Lawrence’s Vogue cover caused a stir back in August as hardline conservatives argued that the background use of the Statue of Liberty was a cryptic dig at President Trump’s immigration reform. Yes, really.

16. New Study Reveals Bartenders, Casino Workers Most Likely to Get Divorced

By Emily Gaudette

Unfortunately, data tends not to lie.

15. Sex Doll Brothel Opens Up in Barcelona

By Cory Scarola

Claiming to be the first of its kind, a sex doll brothel opened up in Spain early in the year. Obviously we decided to write about this, as well as expound upon whether you can get an STI from a sex doll.

LumiDolls, the world’s first sex doll brothel, captured readers’ attentions in 2017.

14. Most Americans Still Lie About How They Want Their Steak

After it was revealed that Donald Trump likes his steak disturbingly well done, we decided to look into how the rest of America enjoys their sirloin. It turns out we don’t like it on the rare side either.

13. The White House Website Under Trump No Longer Has a Spanish Option

By Nick Lucchesi

As the Trump presidency dawned upon America back in January of 2017, people were paying close attention to how government websites might change under new hands. It didn’t take long for the Spanish language option to disappear from WhiteHouse.gov.

12. Watch the Founding Fathers’ Descendants Gather in One Room

By Emily Gaudette

In honor of Independence Day, Ancestry.com gathered living descendants of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence together. For a commercial. Emily Gaudette explores the complicated — and problematic — history behind the advertisement.

11. The Latest Optical Illusion Stumping the Internet Is This Photo of Strawberries

By Gabe Bergado

It didn’t end with the dress. Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a professor of psychology at Ritsumeikan University in Japan, created an image that got the internet seeing red.

This strawberry image boggled minds across the internet in February.

10. JFK Conspiracy Theorists Are About to Receive the Motherlode

By Emily Gaudette

When it was announced that the remainder of the JFK files were to be released, conspiracy theorists had a hey day. We theorized on what new information might come to light — and what probably wouldn’t.

9. Power Outages Coincide in LA, New York, and San Francisco

By Cory Scarola

The trippy coincidence occurred back in April and captured the nation’s attention. We investigated.

2018? 2019? Place your bets.

8. Trump Impeachment Odds Now at 60 Percent

By Jame Grebey

Well, at least as far as an Irish betting house is concerned. Betting odds favoring Trump’s impeachment skyrocketed after Trump dismissed FBI Director James Comey and became embroiled in the investigation into Russian meddling.

7. When and How Do Most Americans Lose Their Virginity?

By Emily Gaudette

It’s actually a pretty loaded question and depends very much on what you personally define as virginity. We parsed through the data.

6. The 21 Best Subreddits for Free, Creative Porn

By Emily Gaudette

Reddit is the go-to place to talk about and share just pretty much anything, including porn. Emily Guadette details some of the best subreddits out there.

Tentacle porn made a splash on Twitter thanks to Kurt Eichenwald.

5. A Helping Hand for Finding Great Tentacle Porn Online

By Emily Gaudette

A deep dive (no pun intended) into the slimy, sexy world of tentacle porn, including its origin and history. Inspired by an “accidental” tweet from Vanity Fair’sKurt Eichenwald of tentacle porn, we felt the internet could use a primer on the genre as Eichenwald’s tweet subsequently went viral.

4. Trump’s Tweets Just Went From Bad to Unconstitutional: Here’s Why

By Monica Hunter-Hart

Back in the summer it looked as if President Trump’s bombastic twitter habits were about to land him in the legal hot seat. It didn’t exactly happen, but as we enter 2018 with the President still glued to his feed, anything is possible.

3. What is Saraha?

By Katie Way

In 2017, we had a lot of questions about the app that seemed to go viral overnight, Saraha. Deriving its name from the Arabic word sarahah, which translates to “honesty” or “candor,” the app lets its brave users send and receive messages anonymously, for better or for worse.

Netflix’s Dear White People.

2. People Are Canceling Their Netflix Accounts Because of ‘Dear White People’

By Gabe Bergado

Oh brother. Throughout a year of outrage, the trailer for Dear White Peopleprompted white supremacists to decry Netflix’s “anti-white agenda.” The reason? The trailer showcases the show’s protagonist, black college student Sam White, stating that white students shouldn’t dress up in blackface on Halloween.

1. Pornhub Released a Detailed Map of the World’s Porn Interests

By Cory Scarola

Inverse readers seem to be really curious about porn, because this story was read more than any other in 2017. So where in the world do women watch the most porn? And why do Americans want to watch sexy videos that are Overwatch-themed? We don’t know… but Pornhub has dug up the data, along with so much more about our carnal interests.

The 25 Most-Read Inverse Science Stories of 2017: Wild, Wonderful & Strange

This year will be remembered for its immense cultural and social upheavals, both good and unbelievably, Earth-shatteringly bad. But what appears to have remained consistent, at least judging by the science stories that Inverse fans read, interacted with, and shared, is a healthy curiosity about the the weird and wonderful, the science of our own bodies and minds, and scientific discoveries that push the limits of what we currently consider reality. That, and an obsession with whatever Neil deGrasse Tyson has to say about anything.

To celebrate a strange and sensational year in science, here are the 25 science stories that Inverse readers loved the most.

A Hamer individual from Ethiopia who took part in the study. Many alleles associated with light skin originated in Africa, not in Europe.

25. Genetics Researchers Just Disproved a Long-Held Racist Assumption

As racial tensions escalated this year in America and around the world, scientists found hard evidence that many of the assumptions people make about people with dark skin are completely, utterly unfounded. Many people still act as if people born with dark skin are less human, a behavior inherited from Middle-Age Europeans who believed the African people they encountered were not the same species as them. In October, scientists revealed they — and the people who continue to promote those beliefs — were completely wrong, showing that the human genes for dark and light skin all originated in Africa.

Read more about the racist theory debunked by science.

24. Drake Equation Revision Hugely Ups Odds of Intelligent Alien Life

The Drake Equation, written in 1961 for the first meeting of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), is a seven-variable equation that calculates the odds that there are any active civilizations beyond Earth. In 2016, scientists decided it was a bit outdated, and so they updated it to include new data on exoplanets collected in the 50+ years since the equation was written. The new probability that there isn’t any other intelligent life out there is 10 billion trillion — making it extremely likely that there is something else out there.

Read more about your chances of meeting aliens in this lifetime.

23. Science Explains the Marijuana Hangover

The marijuana hangover — replete with headache, fatigue, fogginess, and dehydration, — has long confused pot users, who are more likely to associate the symptoms with alcohol. Scientists chalk the tired feeling up to the restless sleep that ensues when you get too high, and the dehydration you feel is caused by weed shutting down saliva production, which is what also causes the dreaded “dry mouth” while smoking.

Read more about the psychological and physical downside of a pot brownie binge.

22. Humans Have Been Having the Same Nightmare for Thousands of Years

Over the centuries, humans have come up with countless, often absurd, explanations for the phenomenon known as sleep paralysis. When it strikes, sleepers find themselves suddenly awake but unable to move, pinned to their bed as if a heavy weight is sitting on their chest. Scientists think the phenomenon has its roots in our brains, which actively paralyze us during REM sleep so that we don’t act out our dreams. If we’re suddenly interrupted during that phase, our brains sometimes “wake up” before our bodies do, leading to the terrifying nightmare-like experience.

Read more about sleep paralysis, which led to the evolution of the “Night Hag”.

Fossils found in submerged tunnels in Mexico might be the oldest human artifacts found in the Americas.

21. A Stolen Human Skeleton Might Be America’s Oldest

An investigation of the spoils from a plundered underwater cave in Tulum, Mexico, turned up an unlikely guest: the most ancient human skeleton ever found in the Americas. The Chan Hol II skeleton, which was first discovered in February 2012 and was actually stolen shortly after photos of it went public, was recovered by scientists who showed, using carbon dating, that it was 13,000 years old.

Read more about the very first Americans, who were actually in Mexico.

20. Diarrhea Is Evolution’s Immune System Drain-O

Poop will never not be funny for readers. It’ll also never not be interesting to scientists. This June, they discovered that diarrhea serves a critical purpose for animals, having evolved over millennia of evolution. As much as it sucks to get the runs while traveling or after eating an adventurous meal, having to rush to the can is much better than not getting diarrhea. The uncomfortable bowel movement, the scientists reported, is your body’s way of flushing out all of the potentially life-threatening toxins in your gut before they get into the rest of your body.

Read more about the biological reason diarrhea is good for you.

19. 20 Years After the Great Lego Spill, They’re Still Washing Ashore

In 1997, a container ship called the Tokio Express bound for New York was hit by a wave so huge that it knocked an enormous container full of 4.8 million pieces of Lego into the water. While at the time it didn’t seem like the miniature blocks would ever make it to their final destination, in July of this year residents of Cornwall, United Kingdom reported that the pieces are still washing up on the beach, suggesting there’s still a chance they may float to the other side of the Atlantic.

Read more about Lego pieces posing a hazard to barefoot British beach-goers.

18. Reddit Study on Ideal Penis Size Consistent With Dick Science

Despite all the changes that took place this year, our fascination with penis size did not waver. In July, the results of a small Reddit survey on penis size were presented in graph form, showing an upside-down U-shaped curve spanning lengths from four to ten inches. While this survey only incorporated self-reported data from 761 users, the results actually matched up well with what scientists already know about average peen size: like Reddit’s dicks, most dongs are about six and seven inches long and five to six inches around.

Read more about the average penis size and girth, on Reddit and elsewhere.

17. Neuroscience Reveals How the Brain Changes as it Watches Porn

We’re watching porn at record-breaking rates, and all that visual, er, stimulation has scientists wondering what it’s doing to us on an individual and a societal level. So far, we’ve learned that porn acts in many ways like a drug, causing our brains to release the pleasure-tr iggering neurotransmitter dopamine, and it may also activate the amygdala, the part of the brain linked to emotional behavior and motivation. Word’s still out on whether casual porn watching is problematic, but some scientists worry that very frequent porn viewing might be linked to certain psychological issues.

Read more about what all those late-night Pornhub visits do to your brain cells.

16. The Real Story Behind ‘Roanoke’ Is Creepier Than ‘AHS’

The sixth season of American Horror Story, centered on the historical real-life tragedy of the lost American colony at Roanoke, premiered in 2016, but it continued to intrigue Inverse readers well into 2017. Scientists have used lasers, magnometers, and radar to uncover rare objects that survived the 400 years since the colony was founded, but these still haven’t cleared up whether the colonists succumbed to disease, a violent uprising, or something even more sinister.

Read more about American Horror Story and the even more horrific Roanoke legend behind it.

15. China Transmits Data Into Space Using Quantum Entanglement

Around the world, scientists are making huge leaps in the field of quantum teleportation, which could revolutionize quantum computer security. China’s researchers are leading the pack, this year succeeding in transporting a quantum particle 870 miles into space — breaking the former distance record of 62 miles.

Read more about China’s supremacy in the quantum teleportation race.

14. Human Mini-Brains Growing Inside Rat Bodies Are Integrating

We’re living in the age of farmed organs, but scientists are still working out the kinks. These days, they’re growing human mini-organs inside animal bodies using stem cells that can be coerced into turning into livers, hearts, and brains. The brains are proving to be a bit problematic: in November, scientists reported that human brain cells grown inside rats are starting to transfer blood and nerve signals, giving the researchers pause: might these rat-brain hybrids become conscious?

Read more about whether hybrid rat-human brains will ever wake up.

13. Conspiracy Theorists Have a Basic Cognitive Issue, Say Scientists

Conspiracy theories abounded this year, which is perhaps not surprising, as previous studies have shown that increases in such beliefs tend to correlate with rising mistrust in authority structures. In October, scientists discovered what’s different about the way that people with these beliefs actually think: people who tend to believe in conspiracy theories, they explained, see patterns that don’t actually exist, and it’s this “illusory pattern perception” that causes them to believe in bizarre explanations for those imaginary patterns.

Read more about what’s different about the brains of conspiracy theorists.

12. Here’s Scientist Bill Richards’s Playlist for Tripping on Mushrooms

Psychedelic researchers have had a big year, using mind-altering drugs to treat psychological illness and thereby mitigating decades of stigma against them. Studies on the effects of the drugs, however, must be meticulously designed so that they will be considered legitimate, and so Bill Richards, Ph.D., a Johns Hopkins University researcher, used science to create a seven-hour playlist to maximize the experience of a psychedelic trip.

Read more about how to listen to music during a mushroom trip like a psychedelic scientist.

11. The Crazy Flat Earthers’ Theory That Trees Don’t Exist Isn’t Completely Crazy

The Flat Earth Movement drew criticism from Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and pretty much every other rational mind out there, but one of their bizarre theories actually kind of made sense. Kind of. Some Flat Earthers believe that what we call trees are actually just the tiny remnants of a world where trees were as wide as mountains and were so tall they scraped the sky. In the “no forests” theory, the present-day world represents the sad, small remains of what the Earth once was — which, as Inverse argued, is not altogether untrue.

Read more about the flat-Earther “no forest” theory and its somewhat compelling argument.

10. Indonesia Sea Monster Has Been Identified (It’s Not a Giant Squid)

In May, our appetite for the grotesque was satiated when news broke about a “sea monster” that had washed up on the shore of Indonesia’s Maluku Islands. This 50-foot-long blob of flesh was so badly decomposed that it was unidentifiable, and the giant bones that pierced through it only deepened its mystery. But about a week after it washed up, experts finally determined that it was the corpse of a type of baleen whale, misshapen because of the hot gases that bloated up inside it during decomposition.

Read more about the huge, dead sea animals mistaken for sea monsters.

9. Genetic Analysis Shows Early Humans Avoided Inbreeding, Incest

This year marked the penultimate season of Game of Thrones, which was as rife with incestuous themes as any other season. A study published in October echoed those themes, suggesting that our ancient human ancestors were a lot less genetically reckless than the inhabitants of Westeros. In the Science study, archaeologists showed evidence that humans buried together in Russia 34,000 years ago were no closer than second cousins, suggesting that even these humans knew not to bone their closest relations.

Read more about why incest is best left to the characters on Game of Thrones.

8. Scientists Discover Super-Massive Black Holes Just Outside Our Own Galaxy

We’re comfortable making movies about black holes because they’ve long seemed so far removed from real life, but a study published in January suggested that they’re a lot closer to us than we think. In an announcement from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, scientists reported that they’d found evidence of two super-massive black holes in two of the Milky Way’s neighboring galaxies, 39 million and 176 million light years away from us.

Read more about your friendly neighborhood super-massive black holes.

7. Long-Term Marijuana Use Changes Brain at the Cellular Level, say Scientists

Weed smokers have long noticed, anecdotally, that long-term marijuana use tends to change people’s behavior, but it wasn’t until October of this year that scientists started to notice the cellular changes underlying those behavioral shifts. Using rats that were administered daily doses of marijuana, researchers publishing in JNeurosci showed that the GABA neurons in the brain were unable to properly regulate the amount of dopamine swimming around, causing abnormally drawn-out good feelings of reward — which is the mechanism that’s thought to lead to addiction.

Read more about marijuana’s long-term effects on your brain.

6. Upper Body Strength Is Biggest Factor in Male Attractiveness

Scientists behind a controversial study, published in December, used the results of a questionably designed experiment to argue that women, by and large, find strong-looking men attractive because those men look like they can fight. The ability to fight, in turn, is said to be appealing because ancient women needed men to protect them, and some vestige of that preference remains today. The researchers’ explanation, however, didn’t take into account the fact that perhaps the women involved in the study were not necessarily hard-wired to find those men attractive and rather were subject to a number of other influences, including their own personal choice.

Read more about why male attractiveness isn’t all about being swole.

5. Neil deGrasse Tyson Slams Flat Earth Theory With a Single Picture

Astrophysicist and notorious know-it-all Neil deGrasse Tyson could not resist sharing his thoughts on the rising Flat Earth conspiracy theorist movement, tweeting a sick eclipse-related riddle in November that was guaranteed to stump even the staunchest “globalist” truther.

Read more about Neil deGrasse Tyson’s admittedly clever addition to the flat Earth debate.

4. What Never Leaving Your Hometown Does to Your Brain

Written in 2015, this scientific investigation on the psychological effect of staying in one’s hometown remains a perpetual Inverse Science favorite. It’s not surprising, considering that migration rates among American youth are at a historic low and that more and more people are choosing to put down roots in the states where they were born.

Read more about the psychological effect of never leaving home.

3. Nanoparticle Scientists Warn Tattooed Folks: Ink Doesn’t Stay Put

A report from nanoparticle scientists in September, published in Scientific Reports, cast doubt on the permanence of ink tattoos, revealing that tiny particles from certain kinds of inks actually swim away from the skin and wind up in the lymph nodes. In particular, they found elevated levels of titanium dioxide, a white compound that’s often added to other pigments, in the lymph nodes of the four cadavers they used in their small study. It’s not clear yet whether the escaped compounds pose any danger to people with tattoos, but it’s certainly something scientists must consider.

Read more about the troubling impermanence of seemingly “permament” tattoos.

2. Surgeons Remove Over 28 Pounds of Feces From a Constipated Man

It was hard for readers to resist the horrific photo of an enormous colon, clogged with nearly 29 pounds of feces, cradled like a small animal in the arms of a surgeon. It belonged to a 22-year-old Chinese man in Shanghai who, suffering from an ailment called Hirschsprung’s disease, was unable to expel the majority of waste in his body for his entire life. He’s fine now, thanks to a team of surgeons who removed 30 inches of his swollen colon during a 3-hour operation.

Read more about what happens to a body when it never gets to poop.

1. Scientists Have Found the ‘Holy Grail’ of Physics, Metallic Hydrogen

Kicking off the year, in January, was a monumental announcement by Harvard physicist Isaac Silvera, Ph.D., who claimed to have created metallic hydrogen — a theoretical state of matter that scientists never thought would be possible. Silvera reported in Science that he had forced elemental hydrogen into that state using immense amounts of pressure and extremely cold temperatures, noting that, if produced in large enough amounts, metallic hydrogen could be used as a form of fuel for deep space travel. Other scientists in the narrow field, however, did not mince words when the time came to publicly criticize Silvera’s work.

More Pregnant Women Are Using Marijuana, But We Still Don’t Know The Risks

Numbers in California have nearly doubled since 2009.

More women – especially younger women – are testing positive for marijuana use during pregnancy in Northern California, according to a new study.

The research letter, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, analysed the results of urine tests administered during standard prenatal care of 280,000 women enrolled in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health-care system.

It found that from 2009 to 2016, the percentage of women who tested positive for marijuana at roughly 8 weeks into pregnancy rose from 4 percent to 7 percent.

Marijuana use was particularly prevalent among those younger than 18 (22 percent), and women between ages 18 and 24 (19 percent).

The rate of marijuana use among pregnant women age 25 and older was considerably lower, at less than 5 percent.

In part because of the plant’s mixed legal status, the risks of pot use during pregnancy aren’t fully understood.

Evidence indicates that maternal marijuana use may impair foetal growth and brain development, but conclusive links between marijuana and prenatal complications haven’t been conclusively established the way those have been for, say, alcohol or tobacco.

Marijuana use may be less harmful during pregnancy than that of alcohol or tobacco, in other words, or it may turn out to be more harmful. But at present we simply don’t know either way.

The study was limited to Northern California, a region that’s not exactly representative of behaviours and attitudes toward marijuana nationwide.

After California legalised medical marijuana in 1996, a robust marijuana growing industry took hold in the Emerald Triangle region of the northern part of the state.

Marijuana cultivation and use are woven into the culture of Northern California like no place else in the country.

It’s also possible that for many women in the study, the findings reflect marijuana use that occurred before they knew they were pregnant.

Marijuana is detectable in the urine up to 30 days after the last use, and many women do not realise they are pregnant until several weeks into their pregnancy.

“Prenatal use before vs after women realised they were pregnant could not be distinguished,” the study’s authors note.

Still it’s clear that nationwide, changing attitudes toward the plant are spilling over into the realm of pregnancy. Marijuana has been shown to be effective at treating nausea, and prior research indicates that some pregnant women are using it to treat morning sickness.

A study published earlier this year found that 4 percent of pregnant American women reported using marijuana in the past month of their pregnancy in 2014, up from 2 percent in 2002.

By comparison, the rate of past-month alcohol consumption is roughly 10 percent among pregnant American women.

In part because of the lack of knowledge about marijuana’s effects during pregnancy, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has a simple recommendation for moms-to-be contemplating pot use: don’t do it.

NASA Confirms: “Marijuana Contains “Alien DNA” From Outside Of Our Solar System”

It’s big news, set to shock, amaze, and entertain the world.

 But unfortunately, it’s got nothing to do with extraterrestrial stoners melding with Earth’s plants.

However, since you’re now reading, you’ll almost certainly be interested in this research that looked into the clicking and sharing behaviors of social media users reading content (or not) and then sharing it on social media.

We noticed long ago that many of our followers will happily like, share and offer an opinion on an article – all without ever reading it. We’re not the only ones to notice this. Last April, NPR shared an article on their Facebook page which asked “Why doesn’t America read anymore?”. The joke, of course, is that there was no article. They waited to see if their followers would weigh in with an opinion without clicking the link, and they weren’t disappointed.

We’ve been hoping for a chance to try it ourselves, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Yackler had some fun with the same article and managed to fool a bunch of people.

A group of computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute looked into a dataset of over 2.8 million online news articles that were shared via Twitter. The study found that up to 59 percent of links shared on Twitter have never actually been clicked by that person’s followers, suggesting that social media users are more into sharing content than actually clicking on and reading it.

“People are more willing to share an article than read it,” the study’s co-author Arnaud Legout said in a statement, Washington Post reports. “This is typical of modern information consumption. People form an opinion based on a summary, or a summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper.”

This study looks into the psychology behind what makes people want to share content. Research conducted by The New York Times Customer Insight Grouplooked into what motivates people to share information. Just under half of the people asked in the survey said they share information on social media to inform people and to “enrich” those around them. Conversely, they found 68 percent share to reinforce and project a certain image of themselves – in a sense, to “define” themselves.